Anemia refers to the low count of red blood cells or low level of hemoglobin. During pregnancy, anemia is very common as compared to other times. This is because the demand for iron is high in pregnancy, especially in the second and third trimesters. Your body needs to produce more blood to support the growth and development of the fetus.
Deficiency may occur due to reduced production or excess loss of iron. Your body needs healthy levels of iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid to produce the cells in high numbers. Although mild anemia is common, if the levels are too low it can lead to several complications such as preterm delivery, low birth weight, postpartum depression or a baby with anemia.
Anemia during Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body requires double the amount of iron than you usually need. It is required to make more blood and supply oxygen to the developing fetus. The recommended amount of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg per day. If your body doesn’t get this sufficient amount of iron, it leads to anemia during pregnancy.
You are at risk of being affected by anemia during pregnancy if:
- There is a short gap between your pregnancies
- You experience frequent vomiting due to morning sickness
- You have a diet low in iron-rich foods and vitamin C
- You are carrying more than one fetus
- You have heavy pre-pregnancy menstrual periods
- You have a history of anemia before pregnancy
- You have intestinal and stomach disorders that affect your body’s ability to absorb nutrients
- You take certain medications which affect your body’s iron absorption
- Loss of blood during previous labour
These are some of the factors that an increase your risk of having iron deficiency or anemia during pregnancy. Talk to your doctors to find the best solution for you.
Diagnosis and Symptoms
Your doctor will check your medical history during your prenatal checkups and perform these blood tests for anemia:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Hemoglobin (Hbg) levels
- Hematocrit (Hct) to check the percentage of RBCs
Mild anemic conditions do not have any symptoms. However, you will have fatigue and may confuse it with pregnancy that is common in pregnancy. You may not realize that it is due to the lack of iron in your body. Moderate to severe anemia will have the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Pale complexion
- Poor concentration or irritability
- Chest pain
- Leg cramping
- Cold hands and feet
- Cracks in the mouth corners
Your doctor will suggest ways to increase your iron levels. These may include giving iron supplements and modifying your diet. Your doctor will also ask you to consume iron-rich foods and avoid foods that affect your iron absorption. To know more, see our experts at KIMS Cuddles.
*Information shared here is for general purpose Please take doctors’ advice before taking any decision.